July 2, 2015

The Role of Coffee in Atrial Fibrillation

Is there anyone with atrial fibrillation who hasn’t been told that coffee and caffeine can cause or trigger atrial fibrillation?

The first step to controlling atrial fibrillation, we’re often told, is to eliminate coffee. Because of this, coffee and caffeine are frequent topics on afib discussion forums.

But there’s interesting information about coffee at the Micronutrient Information Center of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

This fascinating site contains interesting facts, such as that unfiltered coffee can raise total cholesterol and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. In addition, coffee consumption is associated with decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease, and there is no evidence that it increases the risk of cancer. It can increase blood pressure, but most studies found no increased cardiovascular disease risk from moderate consumption.

What was most interesting, though, was the relationship of coffee and cardiac arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation. According to the site,

“Clinical trials have not found coffee or caffeine intake equivalent to 5-6 cups/d to increase the frequency or severity of cardiac arrhythmias in healthy people or people with CHD. A large prospective study in the US that followed more than 128,000 people for 7 years found no association between coffee consumption and sudden cardiac death. More recently, two prospective studies in Scandinavia found no association between coffee consumption and the risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a common supraventricular arrhythmia.”

So, according to this, coffee, even 5-6 cups per day, doesn’t play a role in developing atrial fibrillation or increasing the frequency or severity of arrhythmias.

When this topic comes up on a discussion forum, someone will inevitably say that they drink as much coffee they want as long as it’s organic or it’s decaf.

What has been your experience with coffee and afib? Does cutting out coffee or caffeine decrease or eliminate your atrial fibrillation? Or does it make it any difference at all?

How many of us grab some coffee when we’re stressed? Could it be stress, not coffee, that’s the culprit?


  1. Stuart phillips says:

    I get lightheadedness, when I stand up.could that be a afib promlem?

    “not found coffee or caffeine intake equivalent to 5-6 cups/d to increase the frequency or severity of cardiac arrhythmias in healthy people or people with CHD.”

    Your conclusion to the study is misleading in my opinion. The study says they have not found a connection between developing afib or the frequency of arrhythmias IN HEALTHY PEOPLE or people with CHD.

    This doesn’t look like a study which examines the link between coffee and afib incidents among people who already have persistent afib. But the way you have it on the site, it makes it sound like the consensus is there is no relation, even though the study was not of an afib population, it was the general population.

    • I take a lot of caffeine as an Afib patient. For the last 2 years I have taken around 600 mg to 1200 mg of caffeine per day simply because I can’t seem to stay awake during the day otherwise. Turns out I have moderate sleep apnea which is the cause of my Afib episodes, not the caffeine at all. The only correlation is that caffeine crash makes me sleep harder which can cause the apnea to be worse at that particular night.

      Right now the doctors have me on Cardizem which is really good at keeping your heart rate low and pradaxa which is some new fangled blood thinner. Last weekend was my first episode in nearly 3 years.

  3. I have been out of hospital since Sunday. At first they thought i’d had a mild heart attack, but since my angio was clear they have said it was a case of Afib. My heart raced at 180 one day and it took 2 days to settle down. I am feeling ok and waiting to go onto warphrin. I am 56, Female with very long term diabetes, well controlled asthma and have high bp, again well controlled on medication. I don’t drink or smoke, i do like my cups of coffee and am overweight. My future plan is to lose weight, cut down my coffee to about 3-4 cups a day instead of 6, I work 4 days a week 8 till 4 for the NHS but i plan to cut down to 3 days a week 8 till 5 as my job can be quite stressful. Is there anything else you can advise me?

  4. Mike Shutt says:

    I have had AFIB episodes off and on for years and gave up coffee at my docs advice a few years ago. What I have noticed is a big trigger for me is High Blood Pressure above 145/80. Generally my BP runs much lower around 115/75, but stress, lack of exercise, alot of sugar and caffeine can get it in that range. If you have AFib learning to self Monitor your BP and control High BP may be very useful to you as the causes of HBP can vary a lot person to person but has been widely linked to AFIB. Not to mention in and of itself HBP is dangerous to your health

    • Mike, thanks for your insights. Many patients we hear from have issues with caffeine, and many can drink caffeine without problem. For some, it’s the pesticides in coffee that give them trouble. You may be interested in joining the conversation over at our Afib Patient Discussion Forum where folks talk about these issues often.

  5. Before being diagnosed with afib, I drank a minimum of 5 cups of coffee a day, often much more. I knew it was excessive, but I truly enjoy the taste. After being diagnosed, I cut out coffee completely for a few months, but missed it every day. I have since found a compromise and have a small espresso cup (2oz) which seems to satisfy my coffee urge. It also allows me to afford the most naturally produced, organic coffee I can find. My gut feeling about my afib is that it is genetic and stressed based
    I never felt any palpitations or other symptoms and only discovered I had afib from a routine EKG. So it is hard to tell how coffee affects me on a cup by cup basis. But I believe, especially after reading about these studies, that a 2oz/day approach is adequate moderation.

  6. A friend of mine just died this year. He was 67 and they listed the cause of death as AFib. When he was 55 he went in for triple bypass and it worked, however he was left with AFib. Im not sure I would list that as the cause but may have put, died of surgery years later. He did not take care of his condition and his heart basically raced out of control and stopped.

    • Karen, I’m so sorry for your loss. It is important for folks who have afib to manage their condition on a daily basis. It is also common for folks to start having afib after other surgeries. Again, I’m sorry for your loss.

  7. E. Williams says:

    Age 54, male. My A-fib began after open heart surgery to remove a tumor in my left atrium, in 2004. It comes and goes, for reasons I cannot determine or associate with any particular activity, diet, or physical condition. Flutters are aggravating, but A-fib pulsing, especially when it presents in the jugular area of my neck, is a frightening situation. I rely on caffeine to keep me awake during the day, due to the many medications I take that cause drowsiness. Those meds are unrelated to my A-fib condition. I can’t say that caffeine worsens the problem, especially since my episodes are sporadic.

  8. It is one in the morning I just had a short episode of AF lasting about one hour. My cardiologist has suggested regular 100 mg flecainide 2 times a day. For the last 37 days I have not taken the med and this is the first outbreak. The only thing I did last night differently was take 600 mg calcium and 400 I.U. Vitamin D3. I regularly take aspirin and 400 mg magnesium. Someone mentioned AF is an individual thing. I agree. I take 4 cups of coffee only in the morning and cannot associate it with AF. I can associate it with alcohol taking only one glass at night will usually kick it off. Mahalo.

  9. For me, caffeine appears to definitively be a trigger for AF. One of my AF episodes was preceded by me drinking one can of cola and hours later, one small bag of M&M’s. Six hours later, I went into AF. This was not the first time I had correlated the two, but it seemed to really be evident, as I had not had any caffeine or cocoa products for months, and then bam – AF after ingesting these two.

    Also, MSG appears to cause AF in me, if enough of it is ingested. I am pretty confident for me, that the cause and effect of these substances is correct. Stimulants appear to wreck havoc on my nervous system.

    • Ive had pvcs for about 5 years. Most of the time I get a couple thumps every day. Occasionally Ill be bothered by them for hours and rarely a full day. Last week my heart went into afib. At the time I didnt know what afib was . Looking back I think Ive been leading up to this episode. The last couple months Ive sometimes notice a flutter along with my thump. The day before my afib incident I pushed myself a little too hard. I was having pvcs but instead of taking it easy I was out in the sun hiking around some hills on a local farm. It may not be related but I wanted to share that. The next day I did something I haven’t done in a while. I had a big mac and fries for lunch with a coke. I started feeling more flutters and pvcs as the day went on. That evening I went to a party. I was having more pvcs and some fluttering but was thinking it was just one of those days where I had more pvcs than normal. Like I said I wasnt aware of what the fluttering was. Im not a drinker so I only had one beer. I then ate some ribs that had a large amount of dry rub on them. Not long after that my heart went crazy (into afib). I cant say for sure but I think the dry rub probably had a lot of MSG in it. I stayed there for a few hours in that condition and left at 12:30AM thinking Id just go home and sleep it off. Well I pulled off my exit, checked my pulse and then knew it was way different that just a bad pvc day. DId a stupid thing by driving myself to the hospital because I felt really faint a few times. I was in the hospital for a couple days. They were going to shock me back into rhythm but they didn’t need to. After 24 hours of afib and being on drugs to slow my heart down my heart stopped on its own for 4 seconds and restarted to a normal rhythm. That was scarey. I almost passed out from that as the alarm at the nurses desk went off. I’m on thinners and stronger BP meds now. My BP has always been borderline high since I was in my 30s. I am 62 now. I hope afib doesn’t come back. So far just a pvc or 2 per day.

  10. I was diagnosed with AF about a year and half ago. Immediately quite all soda and switched to decaf coffee. I will still occasionally have sweet tea. I have had several episodes of AF and even A Flutter since then. Just had an ablation last week. I am praying that got it but only time will tell. I am working on getting in shape, loosing weight, have gotten a cpap – doing all I can possibly do to beat this!

  11. Well at the time of my diagnosis heaps of coffee/ had severe sleep apnea 70% oxygen levels / family history of AF/ fullon stress with a relationship breakdown/ stress with work …….so i wasn’t going to miss it….age 50.

  12. Brent Cornwell says:

    Simply saying no caffeine was not the answer for me. I am currently 26 and I was first diagnosed with A-Fib when I was 24. I have no family history of the condition and it was deemed idiopathic (No known cause). I was a heavy caffeine drinker, having coffee and energy drinks throughout the day. I decided I was sick of being so addicted to these drinks and wanted to save some money so decided to quit cold turkey. Two days later, I had my first episode of A-Fib. At the time I was in school for cardiac rehab so I knew immediately what the problem was. I went to the doctor, had all sorts of test’s done and was put on Coreg (a beta blocker). My case is unique in the fact that my A-Fib comes and goes, I am not always in A-Fib. Slowly and cautiously I re-introduced caffeine and have found that if I DON’T have caffeine, I go into A-Fib. However, if I have too much too quickly I also go into A-Fib. For me, knowing my body and striking a balance between too much and not enough is prevents A-fib from occurring. That being said, I don’t feel that any quantity of caffeine is the problem, but large quantities, the rate at which it enters the blood stream, and by what mode of delivery, i.e. coffee, tea, or energy drinks, is what dictates the arrythmic effect; for me and case any how.

    • Brent,
      Thanks for sharing your story and your perspective. It seems that you are describing that you have paroxysmal afib. Are you on a blood thinner to help control your stroke risk?

  13. Developed AFIB at 28. With a long family history of it, there wasn’t much suprise when it happened to me. My Cardiologist told me Caffeine didn’t cause my AFIB. He said I can still take in caffeine, just don’t go crazy with it. Caffeine has never caused my heart to go into AFIB. Can say before I got AFIB I had a VERY HIGH caffeine tolerance. Have never really felt any affects of caffeine, regardless of the quantity comsumed. Could drink a mountain dew right before bed and would sleep like a baby. Since my development of AFIB I am extremely caffeine sensitive. One cup of coffee and I get jittery and can literally feel my heart rate increase. Don’t know if there is a correlation between the two or if it’s just a coincidence. Either way since onset of AFIB I now have to monitor my caffeine intake.

  14. Ya, I agree, it’s time to quit the caffeine for good. I’ve been doing a great job of it but am so tired after work that I even fell asleep yesterday. Today I allowed myself a diet coke at lunch and then read this… I better not do that anymore.. I did it cuz the Sotalol has my heart rate at 44! that is so slowwww which is why I think I’m tired.

    • Gayle Patrice says:

      I had an episode that really bothered me during a short jog this
      A.M/ I had two cups of strong coffee AND am under alot of stress. Im also experiencing insomnia which seems to increase these episodes. I am also taking neurontin and tenex for anxiety. i wonder if these are contributing/

  15. I had one episode of atrial fibrillation in September of 2012 and have not had another. I take beta blockers and a baby aspirin every day. I am convinced that my 15-cup-a-day coffee habit played a part in the episode, plus the fact that I had been on the phone with someone I couldn’t understand telling me how to fix my computer, plus I was taking Tramadol for a pulled tendon, and on and on. I had the episode around 9 p.m. went to the ER and heart finally converted on its on the next afternoon. I thought I was in the twilight zone when they started talking about shocking my heart, but I’ve learned it’s common.
    I have a glass of wine occasionally, drink two cups of regular coffee in the morning and one cup sometime in the afternoon. I’m sure it will come back someday, but I think my episode was caused by the perfect storm of triggers, stress being the most important. I am obese. Humana won’t pay for an overnight sleep study for sleep apnea but I’ve been told by Ochsner that they’re developing one to do at home and I’m taking a chance and waiting for it. I refuse to spend $4,000 for an overnight one. After reading all the comments here, I realize how truly fortunate I am.
    I refuse to give up coffee. I have given up 12 cups a day, so that’s enough. I think it’s all about moderation and I’m beginning to practice that with eating also and have lost some weight. I think it’s true that we are all different and different things affect us differently. I truly believe stress was the main trigger for me.

    • please check yourself for sleep apnea cause it can cause you a heart attack and physical stress while asleep. It can be done by someone observing u having just an hour or so nap. Maybe your mother/sister/brother/gf.. if your breathing stops u got it and need a cpap machine. Are u tired during the day?

  16. Ann Stewart says:

    take any kind of stimulant Why would anyone knowingly take a stimulant like caffeinated coffee (or Coke, Pepsi, etc) after being diagnosed with AF when what you are effectively doing is setting yourself up for an increased heart rate? When I was diagnosed seven years ago, the ER doctors warned me then that my caffeine drinking days were over and I took that advice very seriously. (Meds include Metoprolol, Plavix, Aspirin and Digoxin). AF episodes are no fun and if you want to save yourself much pain, stress and aggravation, skip the caffeine. There are excellent decaf coffee brands on the market today that are difficult to tell from regular coffee so do yourself and your heart a favour and switch. Strangely enough, I can drink 2-3 cups of regular black tea daily with no problem.

    • Thanks for the kick in the head! Your response is just what I needed to talk myself out of having even a little coffee. After this last cardioversion (1 of 5 in the last 20 years) I think I need to try something different. It’s funny how all the doctors I see say a little coffee probably won’t hurt which is just what my coffee addicted self wants to hear. But maybe it will hurt though, and why would I not eliminate it, specially since I have always thought it might be a trigger. THANK YOU!

      • Meant to write Especially (couldn’t let that one go ha ha)

        • Lol decaf coffee has as much caffeine as a can of coke and tea has more caffeine than coffee generally so clearly this person still likes his caffeine :)

          • I have often wondered what exactly, decaf means ? Is it 100% free of caffeine ? I doubt it, and therefore, don’t even risk drinking any decaf drinks.

          • Decaf coffee is coffee that is at least 97% caffeine free. I buy Melita (an excellent brand) and they’re proud of their natural process which brings the caffeine free level to 99%.

          • Garrett Browning says:

            A cup of brewed tea DOES NOT (according to the Mayo Clinic) have as much caffeine in general as a cup of coffee. Tea has more caffeine before being processed. It depends, of course, on how strong one brews their drink.

          • Garrett Browning says:

            And decaf coffee DOES NOT have as much caffeine as a can of Coke (again, Mayo Clinic) — the difference is significant.

  17. I had to have a cardioversion just after Christmas, I had over indulged by a lot and to keep going I was drinking heaps of energy drinks everyday. I have now cut these totally out, but I wonder if my excessive alcohol intake was much more to blame. I have allowed back in the odd cup of coffee, and have had no problems yet, but I’m on metoprolol and Dabigatran, so that might be preventing any relapse

  18. Ive had a fib on two occasions 6 years ago (2006 I was 47) and now 2012/3 (53). The first time they said I might have heart disease and may need bypass, stents, pacemaker etc. It turned out my heart was fine it just “jumped” out of normal sinus rhythm. I had 4 weeks of warfarin and an internal cardioversion. Soon as I woke up I was brill, back firing on all cylinders. Its now happened again and after 4 weeks of warfarin (to thin the blood and eliminate the risk of stroke) I have my 2nd cardioversion tomorrow. Not sure what caused it but Ive been taking lots of caffeine, 2 double expressos plus 4 pro plus tablets, this might have caused it? Plus some massive binge drinking around this time?

  19. David McMillan says:

    I am a diagnosed Non Obstructive Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy patient (excuse spelling!) and had AF 2 days ago in A&E went back to sinus 3 hours later having had Rehydration and Magnesium.

    Had half a cup of coffee today and Heart rate back to 100 , not as bad as before but definite coffee reaction..

    No more stimulants for me!


  20. westwindfish says:

    I have had a-fib on and off for over 30 years. Caffine is  a most definite trigger for me. When I drink 3 or 4 cups a day for about a 2  week period, a-fibs occur.
    The latest cure is as follows…..pradaxa 150 mg twice a day plus 40 mg of sotolol in the morning and 40 mg at night. I followed this protocol for 2 weeks without any relief. After  finally being able to get an appointment with my doctor, he increased the evening sotolol  to 80 mg.  The next morning the a-fibs were gone. Hope this helps..

    • paul carter says:

      I have been on 1.25mg bisoprolol for 6 years, over three years, I had about 8 af episodes, and I noticed a correlation to having one macdonald’s coffee every morning for months,(which is very strong.) after my last episode, I stopped drinking coffee altogether, and up till now I haven’t had anymore af’s. I am now considering asking my doctor to take me off these tablet’s.

  21. I am a 26 year old female, and was diagnosed with A-FIB about two weeks ago.
    I have had it constantly, and it has been horrible
    My cardioligist has put me on Warfarin(blood thinning) and Sota Hexal, he wants to shock my heart back into rhythm in one month but i am afraid of the chances of a stroke.
    I would also like to know if gym and one cup of cofee would do me more harm than good/

    Any response would be great.

    • Carin Martin says:

      Probably you have had the cardioversion already; in case you have not,if your doctor does a transesophageal echocardiogram first, it will show whether you have a clot in your heart or not; if not, you should be OK with the cardioversion. At least this is what I have read. Of course, your own doctor is the expert, I am not.

  22. What is a cardio version? I have never had an afib incident and have been diagnosed for 5 years. I am wondering if I even need to take the medication or if the medication is preventing the incidents.

    • username2 says:

      @patcee… where the heart is shocked to place the heart back into a normal heart beat or a regular sinus rythum.
      You lost me with the ‘never had afib’ and ‘if you need to take the medications’

      •  @username2 I was diagnosed with afib 5 years ago after an echocardiogram and other tests because of my irregular heartbeat. They put me on a blood thinner and beta blocker which I’ve been on ever since, but I have never had an episode where I could tell my heart was out of rhythm. I limit myself to a cup of coffee now and then and feel no effects. I do drink a lot of tea. I just wonder if I went without the medications if anything would happen. I don’t like taking rat poison.

  23. username2 says:

    I just had a cardio version this past Saturday. 
    Saturday I had way too much coffee, a little over a pot before noon.  Then I decided to mow the lawn with the push mower.  After about 2 hours of this, I came into the house and made a large glass of ice water.  I was about half way done when I knew right away I went into Afib.  (I’ve had it maybe 5 times in the past 2 years  and had one cardio version 6 months ago)
    I use to run about 45 miles per week for about 3 straight years at a fast pace, in preparation for a 1/2 marathon.  That came to a stop after the cardioversion.  Just got worried it was part of the reason somehow.
    The previous 5 bouts I had with Afib were all, drinking alcohol releated  as the doctor’s diagnosis.
    After this last one from coffee, I am pretty sure it is a dehydration related thing considering the alcohol ones were always the next morning waking with obvious dehydrations. 
    The running….  I’m really surprised nothing happened there but I was noticing odd feelings from some runs, and my shirt would be soaked after each run.

  24. I was diagnosed with Afib y a cardiologist about a year ago, and am on meds.  I’m not a heavy coffee drinker, but had a cup or two in the am and sometimes a diet coke in the pm.  Over the past month, I have cut my coffee to 1/4 caf to 3/4 decaf and have cut out any other caffeinared products.  Very noticeable difference with virtually no episodes in the last few weeks, so for me, I believe it has been an issue

    • @bpriz – I have only recently been diagnosed with a-fib, and its really difficult for me to make such a drastic change in my life style, although i know its for the better, but i do crave caffeine terribly, and i just had a 1/4 cup, and i feel fine, suppose its not all that much hey, but i know i should cut it out completely, little steps!

  25. cmeyner says:

    I can show anybody that when i drink coffe my heart beat goes to 170-180
    So i am convinced of the existing reation coffe and fibrillation,

    •  @cmeyner It’s not surprising that your heart acts up after drinking coffee, but the question is whether it is the caffeine, the pesticides, or the dehydration that is doing it. 

    • Afib hit me 4 mos ago after a nite of Tekillya-feel Ike a bum for drowning my hearth with gallons of gin and beer (together for yrs like a fool) since 1967 . Also I still work like an animal at 6 with my Tools as Mason .I stopped the booze.Coffee just got “fired” from my remaining yrs – it jumped up my Bp & HR couplein ago – bye bye coffee..

  26. i also notice that when i take a deep breath or bend down i get an afib attack and it last 3 to 8 sec if you can help let me know pshutt1981@yahoo.com

  27. im 30 and i just started having afib it hits me like 10 to 15 or more times a day i have no insurance and dont know what to do i get light headed and a weird feeling in my chest can a tooth infection cause it or what should i do if you can help e mail me pshutt1981@yahoo.com thanks

  28. I had my first “official” a-fib episode almost 11 months ago. I’m a 48 year old male in fairly good health. I went to the hospital because I thought for sure that I was dying and they informed me I was in a-fib. It took me about 4-5 hours to convert back to normal.
    They put me on a calcium-channel blocker which I hated. It made me feel tired, irritable and like the walking dead. It’s true that I didn’t have any afib but I got really tired of feeling awful all the time. I finally quit taking it about a month ago after I read about the role of magnesium and afib. I started taking a magnesium supplement every day and I really do feel like my old self again. I don’t know how long I’ll go before I have another episode but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
    I had cut out all alcohol and coffee but now I’ve been reading about how one beer a day is really good for your heart and overall health and also how decaf coffee can help prevent type 2 diabetes. I am overweight so these are concerns for me.
    I’m wondering what the risks vs benefits for drinking one decaf coffee and one beer per day are for us afibbers. I’ve tried having a beer a couple of times and, so far, nothing bad has happened. Coffee (even decaf) scares me though because I’ve always been really sensitive to it. Thanks for any input you can give me.


    • Lyle,

      No beer. No Decaf. Just live. Forget that questionable stuff. You DON’T need it, as much as you DO need your heart.

      JUST REMEMBER THAT AWFUL FEELING OF THE MEDS. How’s that compare to the BS nothing that coffee and beer give you? You had your sunny vacation in coffee-beer land. It was a nice place to VISIT. Come home now and get about living.

      I’m going through the same thing. If I can get out of this without taking Flecainide and other junk every day, I can LIVE. I sure as hell can’t live with it. It’s awful for me. HOWEVER, I CAN live without COFFEE. It’s just soaked bean water. Big deal Easy. Just do it.

      I can’t even believe people are debating it here. If there is the SLIGHTEST risk that it will put you on the table with paddles or needles, PUT IT AWAY. FLIP THE SWITCH. DONE!

      And live.

      Best wishes to all,


  29. Mellanie,

    Thanks for the response. Sorry to hear about your father-in-law. When they put me on Warfarin 9 years ago, I was allergic to it. I just read the new FDA warnings regarding Pradaxa and I am very concerned. What is Xarelto? I never heard of it. I know based on the CHAD score I am a high risk, but I absolutely hate being on a blood thinner and am planning to ask my doctor about the new Bayer aspirin that enters the blood stream immediately. Since I have only had two A-fib episodes in 9 years, why couldn’t I carry this new aspirin with me and take it only when I feel an episode coming on? I’m trying to watch my potassium intake, because I think the low potassium triggered my last episode. I am so afraid of a fall or car accident. It just seems to me that there should be a better way to protect people who only have occasional A-fib. This whole thing so upsetting. Thanks for any other input you may have regarding my situation.


  30. I stopped drinking coffee several years ago, because of irregular heartbeats, and switched to black tea. (less caffine) It took a while, but I got used to it. When the symtoms came back, I switched to green tea. (even less caffine) I do enjoy an occasional latte, but can’t overdo it. I don’t know if I have A-fib. I had tests done by a heart specialist and they were normal. When I have indigestion I get what feels like a slow pounding,

  31. It doesn’t seem to matter in my case. With or without coffee, I have a-fib symptoms almost every day (varying in degrees of severity). I have been hooked up to a 48hr holter monitor and it did record several “episodes” however it doesn’t seem to be enough to make my doctor concerned… which kinda concerns me. I’m Female, 26 and in good shape but have a very crappy family history when it comes to Arrhythmia. I’m thinkin’ on getting a second opinion… Any other advice in the meantime??

    • i am also suffering Afib ,the main causes of this smoking,caff en intake, junk food and not good sleep. try coconut milk or oil daily one tea spoon after meal at-least 15 days then tell me .

      ahmed Khan

  32. I submitted a comment on 1/12/12. Any response would be appreciated.


  33. I have had 2 episodes (that I know of) in the past nine years. The most recent was about 4 months ago. It came out of the blue as I was climbing the stairs. That was the same scenario the first time it happened, 9 years ago. At that time I was on too many asthma meds and I think that is what caused it, (I don’t take asthma meds anymore). I have never had a cup of coffee in my life and the only caffeine I have is when I eat chocolate, which is about 4 or 5 times a week. I am on 3 different blood pressure meds (one is a beta blocker) and my BP is pretty much under control, though when I got to the hospital during the last A-fib episode my BP was extremely high. I’m a 64 year old female, 50 lbs overweight and have controlled sleep apnea. It is very frustrating to have this problem looming overhead, because you never know when the next episode can happen. The only thing that they found the last time was that my potassium was very low. I’m taking Pradaxa now, but it is killing my stomach and I’m not happy about being on a blood thinner. When I was younger, I had many episodes of tachycardia, but I was always in normal sinus rhythm. I don’t know about family history, but I think my dad seemed to have some kind of heart rhythm problem. He died when I was 18, so I don’t remember too much. Also, I have had two cardiac caths during the last few years and both were perfectly normal. I’m really baffled as to why there isn’t a better way for doctors to figure this problem out. I feel like a walking time bomb and it’s scary. Anyone else taking Pradaxa?

    • Lorraine,

      Sorry for the delay in replying. I was gone to the Boston AF Symposium medical conference, then a think tank in DC, and then my father-in-law passed away, all within a week. So it’s been crazy.

      As a 64-year old female, you definitely should be on a blood thinner (per the CHA2DS2-VASc scoring system). Have you tried Coumdain or warfarin, since the Pradaxa is causing problems? Or maybe Xarelto?

      Afib is a real puzzle because we don’t even know what causes it.


    • My dr. wanted to switch me to Pradaxa but I don’t like the idea of not having regular blood checks to see what’s going on with it. There are some scary stories about it as far as internal bleeding. It seems to me you just take it and hope it is working – without monthly tests to make sure.


  35. About coffee…I have persistent A Fib and coffee for me is a definite NO. It really makes all of the pounding, skipping and jumping much worse. I had cardioversion in 2009 and was good until this last summer, almost 2 years, so I will be trying it again this month. Those of you who have A Fib that comes and goes should consider yourselves lucky. Imagine having it day after day after day.

    • Gail,

      A lot of folks have difficulty with coffee, though some of them have found that they can have organic, but not non-organic, coffee with no afib issues. But it sounds like it’s best for you to stay away from it.

      Some folks who have afib all the time say it’s so much better than having it come and go, and never knowing when the afib beast will strike. We’re all different in how afib affects us.


    • I have often wondered if being overweight could have something to do with A Fib. I have been taking a beta blocker and blood thinner for several years, but I have never suffered a real A Fib attack. Is it normal to medicate for it before anything happens?

  36. Jim Maultsby says:

    I was recently diagnosed with afib. I had symptoms on and off for about 2 years. Every time I would tell my G.P. they would do an EKG and all would be normal. I was finally put on an event monitor.I was just about to give up on th event monitor, when I just went to be and my heart went into afib. I drink regular coffee, in the morning. Probably mor that I should, but the afib occurred, at night long after any coffee was long gone from my system. A stress test was ordered. Just as I completed the test and sat down to rest, my heart went into afib. My cardiologist was able to revert my heart back with medication. ( note no coffee this day ) Xray error showed a 70 percent blockage. A cardiac cath proceedure with not blockage at all. Has anyone gone through that for no reason at all? So my question is. if it is coffe related why did it happen when I first went to bed? If I have sleep apnea ( never been tested ) why would it happen when I first went to bed? If your up all day and moving then there is no restrictions. I am now on a medication called multaq. Any info on this medication, good, bad or other wise would be helpful

  37. I am sick and tired of not being taken seriously as to what I am positive is causing my bouts of a-fib. I’ve had a total of 5 episodes now, one when I was 20, and 5 this year (age 34) and the only thing common to all 5 episodes is NOT caffeine.

    The first episode happened while drinking a shake with a caffeine boost from Jamba Juice after an intense workout.

    The second happened in April of this year. I have (up until recently) been an extremely heavy caffeine user in the form of a minimum of 2 liters of soda every day, usually Mt. Dew or Dr. Pepper, both high in caffeine content. In April I was going through a stressfull move and had had three 2 liter bottles of soda, then at about midnight I drank a chocolate milkshake and with the first sip began experiencing heart flutters.

    The Third time is the first time I went to the hospital about it and found out that these episodes were a-fib. Again, I had had a 2 liter bottle of soda earlier in the day, then went to a party that afternoon and had about 8 bottles of beer. Once I was home, around 2 in the morning, I made myself another shake, and with the first sip, as I felt the cold liquid going down my throat, just as it hit my chest, I got the flutters again.

    Since then I’ve cut caffeine from my diet and been put on Metoprolol and have had 2 more (short) episodes, BOTH when drinking a fluid significantly colder than my core temperature. (a slushie from an AM/PM and a very cold glass of grape juice) My doctor, and the cardiologist both chuckled when I said that I thought it was being caused by significantly cold fluids. They both said that it’s more likely that I have been cheating and drinking caffeinated beverages.

    • Chuck,

      You’re hardly the first person to mention cold drinks as a trigger. It sounds like your doctors aren’t listening to their patients, or maybe you’re the first to mention this. But to claim you’ve been cheating and drinking caffeine seems kind of insulting. Sounds like what you most need is new doctors who will work with you to sort this all out.

      Caffeine and alcohol seem to be the standard “excuses” doctors use as the causes or triggers of afib. However, often it’s not the caffeine in coffee, but instead is pesticides or the fact that coffee can dehydrate you. And alcohol triggering afib can often be due to dehydration, too.

      You mention workout and sodas – both can also dehydrate you. And some people mention sugar and corn syrup, both in various sodas, as triggers. So, you may be sensitive to other things besides caffeine.


  38. Daryl McMasters says:

    My AFib started while my wife was out of town and I was home along. I only drink one or two cups of coffee a day and I always have about 20% milk in it. When my AFib started I had just finished a large orange sherbet 7-up float. IT reverted back o its own after about 6 hours, I thought it was just flutter and went to sleep without any further thought of it. I had a heart attack in 2004 so I have a regular Cardiologist. He says the AFib is due to the heart attack, which was caused by a clot which was caused by an NSAID that I had been taking for 4 years on and off. The next time I had a sherbet float, about three weeks later, the Afib hit again. This time I had an event monitor so I hooked it up, transmitted and they told me to go to the ER. Which I did and they gave me a stronger beta blocker than I was already on and a blood thinner. After 2 hours I reverted. Anyway I have had a few sessions all brought on by stress and they all only lasted a minute or two at the most. I drank a Mocha Coffee a week ago and man did it make my heart pound, but I never went to AFib. So I have 2 cups of coffee a day, I average about 4 alcoholic drinks a week and over the last 3 months I have had only the few short episodes I mentioned. I don’t comment normally on sites like this, but it is good to hear all of your thoughts about our situation.

  39. hello melanie.i am on coumadin for the past 19 years,and yes,i am a member of the club one of the most selective members who frequents the lab for inr check ,weekly or biweekly visits,i eliminated grapefruits,leafy vegies,bananas,no coffee or/and caffeein in my diet,and thank god i dont regret it,it is a small price to pay for living.yes,it is quite a stuggle but i learnt to live with it,and i dont plan to change my best pal coumadin to a new one,we do live harmoniously,peacefully and learnt to respect each other respectfully.
    when and if my current cardiologist will decide to drop the coumadin to a newer version i will fire him on the spot.

  40. I was diagnosed with atrial fib 1 1/2 years ago after starting to have heart palpitations after even one cup of coffee and then even when I didn’t have coffee. I have cut out chocolate and caffeinated soda and coffee since that time. However, EVERY time I have even one cup of regular coffee, a small glass of caffeinated soda, etc. I have palpitations and get dizzy. I will take an extra beta blocker and within 15-20 minutes I am fine again. I’ve decided it just isn’t worth the risk.

  41. Thank you for all these comments. I just had my first experience with A-fib and had to have cardioversion and the coffee issue is front and center for me. I love my coffee and cannot handle the fact our days together may be numbered.

    I had one cup the morning after my “event”. Nothing happened. rhythm remained even and steady. Same thing this morning. I am walking on eggshells about this so thanks for your imput!

  42. Hi,

    I am writing this from South Africa, where I stay.
    I have had irregular heart beats for awhile now but never had it diagnosed by a Doctor.
    What I have found is that a tooth infection will bring it on. I have had numerous tooth infections in the past and with it my heart would beat irregulary until it was fixed then my heart would return to normal again.
    Recently, however, I have noticed that after even having one cup of filter coffee during the day my heart will beat irregularly, and this can go on for hours!
    So, I do not agree with the foundings of the clinical trials.
    And reading the messages from the posting here, I suggest new trials be done!
    Thank you for this platform! Its great!

  43. Jenny Kenyon says:

    These clinical trials must have been conducted with people who are not sensitive to coffee! It most definitely gives me AF, the more I drink the more I get it, but just one cup will give an effect.


  45. Milton Showalter says:

    I am attempting to figure out my current A-fib problem. I was officially diagnosed with an “event” in 2004. I always knew I had A-fib but it would never show at the right time….doctor visit. Anyway, I am looking for any input regarding my current situation. Rapid heart rate – comes and goes. And of course never when I schedule a doctors visit. Symptoms. Tired all the time; no energy; recently my chest has had a dull ache, which comes and goes. I have cut out all alcohol which ususally was never more than 1 beer at most, but I do drink about 4 cups of coffee in the morning. My GP right now is no help as I never go into a-fib when I am monitored. Thanks for any suggestions.

    • Milton,

      I’m sorry about your afib. What time of day does your afib start? Could there be clues there as to something that might help?


  46. valerie says:

    I’d like to explain how coffee DOES affect the heart. Irregardless of any studies or research proving coffee does not cause afib, there is something coffee does cause, and thats diuresis. Coffee is a diuretic, and it will pull water along with electrolytes out with urination. Electrolytes, especially potassium, help to maintain the hearts rythm. When your potassium drops even a hair below the normal range, it will cause all kinds of heart irregularities from mild to severe, including Afib. Add to that the fact that coffee is also a cardiac stimulant and you have a recipe for The Perfect Storm…even if your electrolytes are in the normal range but on the low end, it can trigger heart palpitations, afib, SVT’s, etc…the old saying still goes that too much of anything is bad for you, so beware of coffees ability to cause problems with the heart, because it can.

    • Daniel Holland says:

      Your hit the nail on the head Valerie. I had it 3 times. Twice from binge drinking alcohol and recently from going from 8 to 10 cups of half caf to full caf per day. Soon had palps the whole week I started drinking full calf. from the 1st day, the 6th day in the afternoon is when the afib hit. Long after drinking coffee and only had 2 cups that day, but the damage was done the week prior. The extra diuretic in the extra caffeine bleached my Potassium and Magnesium and this time my Chloride was wiped out too.

      All 3 times my Potassium and Magnesium were low, I looked back on my blood work 7 months prior and I was just over the line into the “OK” range on my potassium, I was borderline but no flags were raised, the doc should of told me I was OK but low. That extra caffeine, basically doubling my caffeine bleached the Potassium, Magnesium out of me and evidently I didn’t have enough to regulate my heart.

      I would encourage all of you on this site to ask your doctor what your Potassium, Chloride and Magnesium levels where when you came in with Afib. Most people don’t get near enough of those minerals anyway and the diuretics in coffee, cokes and booze remove those 3 minerals. Orange juice, milk and V* are LOADED with Potassium, sunflower seeds, Spinach and Pumpkin seeds are loaded with Magnesium. Keep those levels up.

  47. Omar Anido says:

    Maybe caffeine is not involve in afib, but if caffeine increase your stress level you can trigger an afib that is not associated with caffeine.

  48. brothermike says:

    Hiya folks,
    I’m HOT on the trail to identifying and treating the cause of MY A-Fib/Flutter, and, I am about to be really aggravated that my Cardiologist(S!!) didn’t suggest this in the first place.

    two words, Alex……..sleep apnea

    that’s it for me…I know that there are several possible causes but I don’t fit ANY other profile and my cardiologist MUST have known I might be suffering from a complication from Obstructive Sleep Disorder….

    Alex, do yourself a favor and get to a sleep study also known as a ploysomnography.

    It all adds up. When you have the obstructive sleep disorder you’re starving your body of oxygen for unhealthy periods while you sleep. After years of this unknown sleep condition negative consequences may become manifest.

    I’m now using a Bi – Level Positive Air Pressure system when I sleep. It’s only been one week, but along with feeling more energy during the day, one of the results I expect is improvement with my Atrial problems.

  49. Mellanie:

    First, let me say, how excited I am to have found this site. I’m 43, in otherwise great health and just had my first episode of a-fib. And, the most frustrating thing is that I can’t seem to get a straight answer from anyone about anything related to a-fib: why it happened, whether it’s genetic (my dad has a-fib), what triggered it, whether I should be on beta-blockers or not, whether I should be on blood-thinners or not, and whether I can drink coffee (or alcohol).

    I just had the episode 2 weeks ago and was successfully cardio-verted. At the hospital, they told me to give up caffeine and alcohol, so I did. I regularly drank 2 cups of black coffee a day, and as any regular coffee drinker will attest, those first 4-5 days of no caffeine made me feel much worse than the a-fib.

    I’m past the caffeine withdrawal now, but I have to admit, I do miss having coffee. It’d be really nice if it’s true that caffeine doesn’t cause/trigger a-fib, so I thank you for your post. And, any other research you have on this topic, please do post/send as well.

    Thanks so much.

    • Alex,

      Thank you.

      Some people are able to have organic coffee without problems, but others cannot, so it’s very individual.

      Have you been through our “Get Started Learning About Afib Guide”? It is at http://bit.ly/9auGY2 and will give you answers for some of your questions. Regarding afib running in families – there is a genetic component and it does run in families, but sometimes it’s an environmental influence the whole family shared rather than being in the genes. Maybe the whole family was exposed to air pollution, chemicals, molds, or some other influence, maybe even items in the diet.

      Good luck.


  50. Stephen Carrier says:

    You are wrong, just yesterday I drank 3 large cups of coffee, and by noon, my heart was pounding and I almost went unconscious several times. I was treated for A-fib in the hospital several times in the past and I know exactly what it feels like, I was way into it yesterday. I considered going to the hospital, but, I waited till the caffeine wore off to see what would happen and I was right, my heart rhythm went back to normal after a few hours. I’m sure the caffeine industry wont like anyone saying the truth about their product, but, someone has to. As for me, I’m quitting the stuff, I love coffee, but I prefer staying alive more. Steve C.

    • Steven,

      I’m sorry that the caffeine is an issue for you. It is for some, and not for others. Please remember that everyone is different. With afib, we’re each an “experiment of one”.

      Some folks find that they can drink organic coffee, but not non-organic, which indicates that for them it is the pesticides, not the caffeine, at issue.



  1. […] On this blog, we wrote earlier about whether alcohol and coffee are really the culprits they are portrayed to be in causing atrial fibrillation? You can read those articles at Does Alcohol Put You at Risk for Atrial Fibrillation? and The Role of Coffee in Atrial Fibrillation. […]

  2. […] does coffee play an important role in AF cases? According to the blog entry that I read: Clinical trials have not found coffee or caffeine intake equivalent to 5-6 cups/d to increase the […]